Eric brings you the details of WWE Fastlane 2015 in this edition of Chairshot Classics!
Open: A video talking about destinations and the Road To WrestleMania, highlighting the rivalries between Bryan/Reigns, Cena/Rusev and HHH/Sting.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Big Show, Kane & “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins w/J&J Security
A clip from last Thursday’s Smackdown, which led up to this 6 man tag. Ziggler & Rollins kick it off, with Rollins leading the charge until Dolph gets a roll-up for a quick 2, goes for a superkick and Rollins ducks out for a breather. Crowd chants “You Sold Out” at Rollins. Rollins with a quick edge, thwarted by a Ziggler dropkick and he tags Rowan who overpowers Rollins. Rowan ducks a kick and gets a pumphandle backbreaker, followed by an elbow for 2. Rollins is able to worm away to his corner and tag Kane. Rowan with a body slam, leg drop and 2nd rope back elbow, but is pushed in the wrong part of town and Big Show tags.
Show unloads in the corner, catches a boot from Rowan, but Show sends Rowan to the outside. Show out after him gets pushed into the ring post, J&J approach but get scared off by Rowan, who then goes for a heel kick, Show moves and Rowan’s leg hits the post. Show works over the injured leg and makes the tag to Kane, who follows suit before making a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a 2nd rope blockbuster for a near fall and then brings back Big Show. Show continues to punish the leg, goes for a Chokeslam, but is countered into a DDT. Show tags Rollins, who cheap shots Ziggler in the corner, but turns around into a heel kick by Rowan using the bad leg.
Rowan is finally able to crawl over and tag Ryback, who goes to work on Rollins with heavy offense. Rollins rolls away from a splash and goes for the Curb Stomp, but gets caught into a powerbomb. Ryback sets-up for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides in and ends up taking it. Rollins misses a move off the distraction, Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, then J&J Security hit the apron giving Rollins the chance for a roll-up that gets 2, immediately followed by a head kick for another near fall. Rollins to the top for a flying knee, Ryback ducks it but takes a kick on the other side. Rollins goes for another 2nd rope blockbuster and gets caught in Shell Shocked.
Show hits the ring and splashes Ryback and quickly rolls back out. Ziggler & Kane gets tags, Ziggler dropkicks Show on the apron, Kane looks for a Chokeslam that gets reversed and Kane is pushed into Show, knocking him to the floor. Jumping DDT by Ziggler for a near fall. Dolph goes for a Fameasser and gets caught in a side slam, countered and Ziggler with a superkick. Rollins tries to get in the ring and takes a Fameasser, then Dolph mounts Kane in the corner. Show hits Ziggler with a WMD from the outside and Kane covers to grab the win.
Winners: Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins (Kane/Interference)
- After The Bell: The Authority celebrates in the ring and Rollins delivers a Curb Stomp to Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan come in, but the numbers game is too much for them. Ryback takes a Chokeslam and Rowan eats a Curb Stomp. They set Ryback up for a Curb Stomp, but out comes the returning Randy Orton, who proceeds to clean house. Noble suffers an RKO and Mercury gets caught coming off the 2nd rope with another. Rollins takes a kick trying to get in the ring with the briefcase and Orton sets him up for the IEDDT, but Big Show grabs Rollins from behind and saves him. Orton hits Kane with an RKO as Rollins retreats through the crowd and leaves the arena.
- EA’s Take: You had to figure it was about time for Orton to return, as he was never originally scheduled to be off for that long. The match itself was decent with the pace really picking up when Ziggler & Rollins would get in the ring, as you would expect. Rowan is in a really unusual state right now. He’s just not clicking as a face with the fans, as he continues to get little to no reaction. Unless you watch Smackdown, then he’s as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hopefully now we can see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan go do something else, they need to get away from this Authority angle already.
Video: Reviewing the dissolution of the tag team and “cosmic” brothers, Gold & Stardust.
Backstage: In the locker room is Goldust. In walks his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He talks about Dustin doing what he has to do, but not hurting his brother in the process. Goldust says tonight he’s not facing Cody and he has to beat Stardust so bad that he will never want to wear paint again. “Tonight, I’m not leaving that ring until I bring my brother Cody home.”
Match #2: Stardust vs. Goldust
They lock-up and Goldust back Stardust into the corner, tries to clean break and Stardust with a couple shoves. Lock-up again and Stardust backs Goldust up, pushes him again and then receives a slap in return that makes Stardust rethink his approach. Crowd chants “Cody” to Stardust’s extreme disdain. We get a nice back and forth, with neither man getting an edge until Stardust is arm dragged into a corner. More loud “Cody” chants. They go back at it with more back and forth, both men posturing until Goldust gets Stardust set-up for the Director’s Cut, but Stardust slips to the outside. Dusty Rhodes is shown watching on a monitor backstage.
Stardust tries for a running bulldog that gets countered into a backbreaker, Goldust follows up with a clothesline that dumps Stardust back outside. The “Cody” chants seem to be getting to Stardust. Both men are able to hit duck-under strikes, Goldust sets-up Stardust for Shattered Dreams, but he slips out onto the apron. Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Goldust moves and heads to the 2nd rope and Stardust gets the boot up in the mid-section. Stardust goes to work on the boot, spilling Goldust to the outside and battering him into the ring apron before rolling him back inside and punishing Goldust’s torso. Stardust with a front suplex and an arrogant cover that gets 2.
Stardust just continues going to work on the rib area. Goldust misses a springboard back elbow, Stardust sets-up for Cross Rhodes, but Goldust counters into a roll-up and gets a very shaky 3 count.
Winner: Goldust (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Stardust looks stunned about the end of the match. Goldust implores Stardust to shake his hand, Stardust grabs it quickly and rolls out of the ring, still looking in shock from the outcome.
- EA’s Take: Really an odd ending because of the count. Was it supposed to go that way? It almost seemed like it was meant to be part of the story with the way Stardust was reacting. I’d expect this to continue on into a match at WrestleMania for Goldust’s farewell.
Video: Seth Rollins from Monday Night Raw last week, referencing that he could host The Daily Show better than Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a few choice words for Rollins and then Rollins has a retort, and invites Stewart to show up at Fastlane.
Backstage: Dusty Rhodes and Goldust are talking about the previous match when Stardust walks up and says it looks like a family reunion, but they forgot to invite him. Stardust asks Goldust if he thinks they’re done and ambushes him, beating him down. Dusty implores Stardust to stop, calling him ‘Cody’. Stardust tells Dusty that he killed Cody, by sending him “this bag of bones” and that he is no longer living in Dusty’s shadow.
Match #3 For The WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) w/Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya
Video of the dinner between Kidd/Natalya and Jimmy/Naomi from Smackdown 3 weeks ago. Kidd & Jey begin with Jey getting the upper-hand after a flying forearm and a slam, then a tag to Jimmy. Double team move now, a combo backbreaker/top rope forearm gets a 2 count. Jimmy with heavy chops and he hits a corkscrew senton from the top for a near fall. Kidd backs Jimmy in for a tag to Cesaro, shoots Jimmy in and runs him into Cesarom Jimmy counters but Cesaro chops the leg. Jimmy tries to fight out of the wrong corner, Kidd gets a tag and langs Jimmy’s leg across the ropes.
Kidd works the leg and makes a tag to Cesaro, for more of that same prescription. Cesaro with a one-legged big swing into a single leg crab, Kidd tags and hits a slingshot leg drop for a count of 2. Kidd continues to work the leg, wrapping it on the ring apron, but Jimmy gets himself a small window of opportunity. Cesaro rolls kid back inside and gets the tag as Jimmy reaches Jey, who hits a flurry of moves exclamated by a Samoan drop. He lines up for the Umaga Hip Attack, but Kidd is on the apron with a distraction that allows Cesaro to get a roll-up for 2. Jey with an enzuigiri and this time connects on the Umaga Hip Attack, but Cesaro is out at 2. Jey ascends the turnbuckle, but Cesaro hits the ropes which crotches Jey.
Kidd makes a tag, Cesaro hits the Swiss Superplex and Kidd follows with a springboard elbow drop that nearly wins them the titles. Kidd wants the Sharpshooter, counter by Jey, Kidd hits the apron and gets a roll-up on Jey, but Jimmy made a blind tag. Uso’s hit Alley Us and Jimmy covers, but Cesaro breaks it at 2 and pulls Kidd to the outside. Jimmy eats a kick from Kidd and Jey with an outside dive onto Cesaro. Kidd takes out Jey with a kick and here comes Jimmy who misses a baseball slide, then counters a kick from Kidd to a Samoan drop into the barricade. Jimmy rolls in Kidd and heads to the top, Cesaro’s distraction on the apron is thwarted and Jimmy goes for the Samoan Splash.
Kidd gets the knees up and rolls Jimmy into a cover for a near fall, then locks Jimmy in the Sharpshooter. Jey breaks it up with a kick to the back of the head, Cesaro in now and they brawl to the outside as Jimmy crawls to a cover that’s only good for 2. Cesaro rolls Jey into the ring which distracts the ref, then swallows a kick from Jimmy. Kidd capitalizes on the distraction and hits the swinging fisherman neckbreaker to capture the gold.
Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Kidd/Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: Lillian Garcia – “Here are your winners and still….the new WWE Tag Team Champions…”. Why in the BLUE HELL did they let Justin Roberts walk again? Anyway, this was yet another example of why The Uso’s are the best tag team in the business. Not to discredit Kidd & Cesaro because they are great too and I like the different paths they could take with them going forward in terms of challengers. There’s a bunch of babyface teams right now with the breakup of Gold & Stardust and the eventual split of The Miz & Damien Mizdow. Add to that the recent call-up of Kalisto to add The Lucha Dragons into the mix.
Video: Triple H talking about his allegiance to WWE, 2 weeks ago on Raw and what has led up to Triple H calling him out for tonight.
In The Ring: It’s time for that confrontation and here comes Triple H, who is wearing street clothes and not his usual suit. Triple H talks about last week on Raw, when he was confronted by Ric Flair about Sting and how he regrets losing his cool and apologized to Flair, but doesn’t apologize for what he said about Sting. He says he is not standing in the ring as the COO, but as the heartbeat of WWE, The Game, The King of Kings and “Sting, I am waiting for you!”. He makes Triple H think about it for a moment and finally “The Vigilante” Sting makes his way to the ring. HHH says that they are past pleasantries and cuts right to the chase, he knows why Sting is here and isn’t mad about it, but feels sorry for him.
HHH says Sting backed the wrong horse by being undyingly loyal to WCW, but he respects that Sting “went down with the ship”. HHH says that guys like himself made that ship go down and he knows Sting came for him because without HHH & Stephanie the “WWE dies.”, but Sting failed and that’s what Sting does. HHH offers to let Sting have his legacy back and wants to do what’s best for business by putting all this behind them and doing business with Sting. All Sting has to do is walk away and HHH promises to make Sting bigger than ever by putting out DVD’s, action figures, loads of merchandise and possibly someday get him a Hall of Fame induction. Sting still says nothing and HHH takes his coat off and says the other option is the hard way, where he will beat the legacy out of Sting and he’ll be carried out and his legacy erased.
HHH says the choice is Sting’s, but he still doesn’t respond. HHH says he can tell by the look in Sting’s eye, he’s already made up his mind and tries to sucker punch Sting. Sting sees it coming and attacks The Game, but is hit by the microphone and HHH takes over. HHH beats down Sting, yelling at him “I gave you a chance!”, before rolling to the outside and grabbing his trusty sledgehammer. Sting pulls a baseball bat out of his jacket and catches HHH under the chin with it, pushing him into the corner until HHH drops the sledgehammer outside. He backs off and points to the WrestleMania sign with the bat, HHH tries to sneak attack, but gets pushed back into the corner and Sting points to the sign again. This time HHH agrees, Sting pushes HHH back again, points to the sign once more and begins to make his exit. HHH comes up from behind, but takes a ball-bat to the gut and receives a Scorpion Death Drop before Sting leaves.
- EA’s Take: Seems like they are paying homage to the Sting/nWo storyline here a bit, with The Authority playing the nWo role. Loved this segment, Sting didn’t have to speak to get his point across. I’m not sure the WCW vs. WWE part of the story is really something that needs to be played up as much as they have been, but they ultimately need to talk about Sting’s history for the younger crowd to really understand the mark he’s made in the industry.
Backstage: We see Daniel Bryan preparing for his match with Roman Reigns later tonight.
Video: Recap of the Kickoff Show, where The Miz’s guest on Miz TV was Paul Heyman. Heyman says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Bryan or Reigns because they will lose to Brock Lesnar and we can “believe that”.
Match #4 For The WWE Divas Championship: Paige vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella
Video of 3 weeks ago on Raw when The Bella’s sprayed Paige with tanner, then last week when they stole her ring gear and Paige had to wrestle in Rosebud attire. According to Lillian Garcia, Nikki is the Women’s Champion. Brawl to start and Nikki rolls out of the ring, Paige after her with Brie standing in the way, Paige catches Nikki in the ring, then goes for the knees on the apron that is countered and Paige spills to the floor. Nikki sends Paige into the apron and barricade, then back in the ring for a 1 count. Nikki grounds Paige and hits an Alabama Slam for a count of 2. Nikki continues to control until Paige gets in a kick, goes for a roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, Nikki botches it. Paige with a series of clotheslines and a dropkick for 2.
Nikki ducks a kick into a roll-up that gets 2. Paige connects with the kick this time for another near fall. Paige sets-up for RamPaige, Nikki counters to a facebuster, but Paige retorts with a side kick and crawls into a count of 2. Nikki is caught climbing up top, she counters Paige into a powerbomb for 2. Paige is able to set for the PTO, but Nikki gets the ropes before Paige fully locks it in. Nikki grabs Paige’s tights and hauls her face-first into the turnbuckle, then rolls her up and grabs the tights again for the win.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Nikki Bella (Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: If this is headed in the direction that I think it is, which is the return of AJ Lee to help Paige…then shouldn’t Brie have gotten involved to help Nikki win? Maybe AJ is not the plan after all.
Match #5 For The WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
Clip of last Monday’s Raw, when Ambrose zip-tied Barrett to the ring post and forced him to sign the contract for an IC Title match. Both men connect with strikes, trying to prove who’s tougher, Ambrose with the advantage hits a crossbody and some rights, Barrett avoids a clothesline and ducks outside to regroup. Barrett back in, still can’t solve the puzzle of Ambrose, absorbs punishment until he catches Ambrose on the top with a big boot. Barrett sends Ambrose face-first into the steel steps before rolling him in and now he punishes Ambrose in the corner and grounds him. Ambrose gets a couple strikes in, but runs into Barrett’s boot and to the outside.
Barrett throws Ambrose in the ring, but he counters with a variation of the pendulum clothesline on the outside. Inside they go and Ambrose hits a tornado DDT and they double down. Ambrose is on fire now with a series of strikes and a running bulldog, he goes to the top, hops Barrett and rolls through. Barrett looks for Winds Of Change, Ambrose reverses into a roll-up for 2. Ambrose delivers a dropkick and a top rope diving elbow for a near fall. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, countered into Wasteland, Ambrose gets out and takes a kick, springs off for a pendulum clothesline again countered and Barrett hits Wasteland for 2.
Barrett sets his sights on a Bullhammer, Ambrose into a roll-up for 2 and then hits with the pendulum clothesline and Barrett rolls outside. Barrett grabs his title and tries to leave, but Ambrose with a suicide dive. Barrett tries escaping through the crowd, but Ambrose gets him back in the ring. Barrett tries to crawl out again, Ambrose catches him and delivers a beat down in the ropes. Ambrose doesn’t break on the refs count and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Ambrose hits Barrett with Dirty Deeds, goes to leave, then comes back in and grabs the IC Title.
- EA’s Take: This was one of the more predictable finishes of the night, as its been rumored that they’re penciled in to go 1-1 at WrestleMania. Decent match that did what it needed to do and advanced the story and rivalry between Ambrose & Barrett.
In The Ring: The Undertaker’s druids come out carrying torches to a spiritual chant. Taker’s music hits and out comes 2 more druids, pushing a casket down the aisle and up next to the ring. The casket opens to reveal…Bray Wyatt. Bray says there’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. He talks about the first time he saw The Undertaker and how he feared him, but now he has become like everyone else, weak and broken with his soul lost. Bray says it’s time for Taker to go home. He knows he can hear him and he wants Taker to know he’s not afraid anymore. He is the new face of fear. “At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
- EA’s Take: Great way to keep the suspense of whether or not Undertaker will accept the challenge by Bray. I’d leave Taker off until WrestleMania or perhaps even the Raw before. Bray Wyatt is pure gold and doesn’t need Taker to appear to make this feud interesting. Wyatt is a perfect example of someone when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Panel: Renee Young and the rest of the Kickoff panel offer their thoughts on what just happened with Bray Wyatt. Booker T, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton recap the nights events.
Video: The buildup between John Cena and Rusev, leading up to their match tonight for the United States Championship.
Match #6 For The WWE United States Championship: John Cena vs. WWE United States Champion Rusev w/Lana
They feel each other out and circle around, Cena floors Rusev with a right and grabs a headlock. Rusev with a big kick for 2, then begins to dominate Cena with strikes in the corner. Cena fights back and shoots Rusev in, but falls victim to a spinning heel kick and a count of 2, then goes back to beating Cena down. Rusev grabs another near fall off a corner avalanche, Cena’s out on the apron and Rusev drives him off into the barricase, rolls him in for a cover and gets 2. Rusev gets distracted by the crowd and hits a dropkick for 2, only to have the favor returned by Rusev for 2 as well.
Cena gets a short burst of energy and takes Rusev down, raining fists, hits a shoulder tackle off the rope, goes for another and gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev really in control and gets 2 off multiple elbow drops. Cena uses Rusev to get to his feet and throws some gut shots, whip into the corner and runs into a back elbow, before being grounded by Rusev again. Cena powers out of the hold and takes a kick, Rusev goes for a suplex and Cena reverses, then hits a big clothesline for a count of 2. Cena tries the AA, Rusev counters into a DDT for a 2 count. Splashes in the corner by Rusev only get another 2 and Rusev shows signs of frustration. Cena shows signs of life and makes the comeback, hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle and going for an AA, Rusev pushes off and kicks Cena’s head off for another near fall.
Rusev tries to go for The Accolade, Cena counters to the STF, Rusev pushes off and hits a Gunnslinger that Rusev can’t believe doesn’t get 3. Rusev charges Cena and runs into a boot, Cena to the 2nd rope hits a tornado DDT, Rusev kicks out at 2. They slug it out in the middle of the ring, Cena looks AA again, Rusev goes for another Gunnslinger, but Cena turns it into a crossface. Rusev just powers out of the hold and hits an Alabama Slam, Cena kicks after a 2 count. Rusev attempts The Accolade once more, Cena catches his foot and gets him in the STF, but Rusev makes it to the ropes. Cena sets for an AA, Rusev is out with an elbow then a kick, looks for another superkick and this time Cena connects on the AA, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Cena climbs to the top and goes for the leg drop, Rusev catches him into a powerbomb and immediately locks in The Accolade. Cena breaks the grip a couple times and is finally able to get to his feet with Rusev on his back. Lana enters the ring and distracts the ref, Rusev with a low blow and then a kick to the face. He slaps The Accolade on again and Cena passes out.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)
- After The Bell: Trainers check on John Cena, who is still unconscious, face down in the ring. Rusev & Lana celebrate and the Russian flag drops behind them. Cena starts to come-to, but has trouble getting to his feet. He fights off help and heads to the back.
- EA’s Take: Really liking the mid-card title scene since some of the bigger names have been getting involved. Both the IC & US titles have been begging for a revival and these kinds of feuds will do that. Lana’s interference allows for a logical reason to have the rematch at Mania, which is where this is headed. Hopefully, more layers can be added to the story to keep it interesting until then.
Panel: Back to the Kickoff Panel to recap the night before heading to the main event.
Video: The rising tension between Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, as they vie for a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – Winner Gets WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match At WrestleMania: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
They posture, lock up and break clean. Dueling Bryan & Reigns chants. They posture, lock-up and break again. Both men still trying to feel each other out, Bryan gains a headlock, Reigns powers out and reverses, catching Bryan with a shoulder, Bryan comes back with a roll-up for 2. Bryan catches Roman’s legs and attempts a surfboard, but Reigns powers out, leading Bryan to ponder his next move. Bryan kicks at Reigns, but is overpowered. Bryan flips over Reigns and hits the ropes, Reigns with a tilt-a-whirl slam, then clotheslines Reigns to the outside. Reigns follows him and viciously attacks Bryan using the barricade.
Bryan catches Reigns with a kick back in the ring, trying to cut Reigns down at the legs. Reigns breaks a submission with heavy rights, slingshots Bryan across the top, hits a Samoan drop and a flying clothesline. He charges Bryan, but Bryan with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Bryan charges and is hammered with a big clothesline that turns Bryan inside-out for a count of 2. Reigns hits rolling suplexes and his signature apron dropkick, then sets-up the Superman Punch. Bryan counters with a kick and tries to take advantage, but the ref is checking on Reigns to see if he can continue. The match goes on and Bryan works the mid-section, the same area that Reigns had hernia surgery months before. Cormer dropkicks precede a top rope hurricanrana attempt by Bryan, countered by Reigns into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Reigns crushes Bryan with clotheslines in the corner, props him up top, but Bryan counters and seats Reigns on the turnbuckle. Bryan lands a top rope back suplex that only gets 2. Bryan gets the Yes Lock, but Reigns drags him to the ropes and rolls outside. Bryan hits on 2 suicide dives, goes for a third and is caught into an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns has Bryan in his crosshairs for a Spear, but Bryan side swipes him into the steel steps. Both men struggle to reach the ring before the count of 10, but do. Bryan comes off the top and is caught with a Superman Punch for 2. Reigns tries a Spear and Bryan catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Bryan with a big kick, and then connects with Knee Plus, but Reigns kicks at 2.
Reigns on his knees and Bryan goes back to the kicks, tries for a head kick, but Reigns catches the leg. Bryan slaps Reigns and snatches the arm, worming down to the mat into the Yes Lock. Reigns finally powers out and mounts Bryan, hammering down with big forearms. Bryan grabs a triangle choke, Reigns is able to lift him up and slam him to break. They double down and then get into a striking contest on the mat, Bryan to his feet and hits the big head kick before setting up for Knee Plus again. Bryan charges and Reigns catches him with a Spear to get the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- After The Bell: Both men are in the ring, spent. Bryan grabs Reigns and turns him arounf. Face to face, Bryan tells Reigns he better win at WrestleMania and then offers his hand. Roman takes it and then celebrates.
- EA’s Take: Excellent main event match that exceeded my expectations. Easily, the best match of Roman Reigns’ career. A lot of people will attribute that to working with Bryan, but Reigns really answered the call and brought it. Bryan was the perfect opponent to get Reigns ready for Lesnar. Bryan is a very physical wrestler and working that style with Reigns can only help him going into an even more physical opponent, in Brock Lesnar.
EA’s Finisher: Overall a much better show than I was anticipating. I half-went in thinking most of the finishes would be DQ’s or count-outs so they could build to rematches at WrestleMania. Have to give WWE credit for coming up with alternatives as they could easily have taken that route, especially since this is free trial month and a lot of people are probably not paying anything for this. Bryan/Reigns exceeded all expectations I had and I applaud WWE for sticking to the plan this time around and not giving in to all the post-Rumble noise. Bryan can help out in other ways without being involved in the title picture right now. Doesn’t mean he’s out of it forever. Storylines for WrestleMania became a lot clearer, with Randy Orton returning for revenge on Seth Rollins. Cena never tapped to Rusev, so that will continue. Sting & HHH are already official for the big show and as an admitted Sting mark, I for one couldn’t be more pumped (eventhough that has been the direction since Survivor Series). Also, good to see Tyson Kidd & Cesaro putting themselves on the map. I really like the tandem, especially now that Kidd actually has developed a character to go along with the tremendous in-ring skills we all knew he had. Maybe he can pull Cesaro’s out too. Great segment by Bray Wyatt, which has to ultimately lead to The Undertaker accepting the challenge. Why else would they put the thought in our heads if it wasn’t going to happen?
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
2 – Rusev vs. John Cena
3 – The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Ch. 3: Fifty Shades of Pain
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Harry brings us another throwback episode of Progress! His play by play style will paint a picture so clear Bob Ross wouldn’t even need to add trees!
Two of these reviews down. Let’s go ahead and make it a trifecta. Hopefully, you are enjoying the series as ‘What I Watched’ returns under the Chairshot Classics banner for PROGRESS (as well as Impact Wrestling. Hopefully, we can eventually cover some other promotions as well). I’ll be taking note of all the comments left on these reviews and addressing them as new ones get typed out. In the interest of a somewhat regular schedule of these posting, the first couple PROGRESS reviews are being typed out in advance of their release on the website.
So, to the reason of today’s gathering. PROGRESS has had two good (but not necessarily great) shows so far. Instead of going to a more regular occurrence, they stuck with the three months between shows model. Chapter 2 had us in June, whereas this show doesn’t take place until September. The bigger story to me though is that the main event is not what I though it would be at the end of Chapter 2. Instead of getting Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, we are instead getting a tag match with Cruz and Ligero as partners. With that, we once again step into the way back machine and head to September 30th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ or PROGRESS Chapter 3.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 3 – ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: September 30th, 2012
Run Time: 2:08:49 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*Our opening video focuses on a tag match between the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) facing Danny Garnell and Darrell Allen. In addition, we see that Marty Scurll will be the special guest referee for our main event. Which apparently will not be the previously thought Cruz vs. Ligero for the PROGRESS Championship Staff, but a tag match instead with Cruz and Ligero as partners…
*There is no Smallman opening promo, as I believe it was it edited into the opening video with Scurll being added to the main event as the referee. Disappointing start, as I find Smallman’s opening welcome to be a nice light hearted way to get these shows started.
*Match #1: Noam Dar (1-1) vs. Paul Robinson
The Who: Noam Dar is coming off a victory over Darrell Allen via ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’ at the last show to even his record up. Paul Robinson is making his in-ring debut for the company and he is replacing MK McKinnan, who was the originally announced opponent for Dar in this contest.
The Why: My guess would be to get Dar more momentum going forward. I don’t imagine that Robinson is going to be added last minute and beat Dar, but stranger things have happened.
The Match: They still have the records on the name bar’s for the intros. I know that’s not something they do any more, but I’m curious how long it sticks around for…both guys get inset promos. Dar’s is by far the better, as he informs us that he’s going to keep winning so he can get the ‘big stick’ by which he means the PROGRESS Championship Staff, despite the crowd’s borderline racist chants towards him…opening bell rings and we’re underway…Robinson shows off the Chris Hero shoulder kips into the forward roll. Pretty sure that dates back to England before Hero, but Hero is where I personally remember first seeing it…commentary starts a little late, but there’s Jimmy Barnett, who claims he’s not affiliated with Jim Smallman despite sounding a lot like him. That cat is now long since out of the bag…backslide for two and then a super spinning backslide for another two. Seemed a little unnecessary but the fans enjoyed it. Know your audience, I guess…Paul Robinson is a very small guy. Believed the announced weight was just over one hundred forty. For a visual representation, think Spike Dudley…certainly a unique twist on the Garvin Stomp…Dar focusing on Robinson’s knee pays off the fans who have watched the previous shows and the ‘Champagne Super KneeBar’…Dar repeats the gum spot from Chapter 2. Gross. And the fans appropriately respond with a ‘you sick fuck’ chant. Not the most hygienic man in wrestling, is he?…lighting for this show is quite a bit better then it has been for previous shows…Robinson with a suicide dive, which could have been a disaster. There is almost no room between the ring and the front row of fans…said it before, say it again: the superkick and the enzugiri are the most overused moves in wrestling…airplane spin however, we could use more of…Robinson tries to drop the Guillotine Legdrop, but Dar moves and Robinson lands hard…pair of fisherman’s (both suplex and buster) lead to a grounded kneebar. Not quite the ‘Super Kneebar’, but it’s enough for the tap at 11:41…pretty basic match to kick off the show. The crowd was into it, which is good. But as a fan who watches a lot of wrestling, it never seemed to get out of the first gear and move into being more then just there. Dar’s personality make his matches an easy enough watch, but at same point, the in ring product has to be risen up to mean anything. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © (1-0) vs. Xander Cooper (1-0)
The Who: Mark Andrews is a pretty well known name here in the States now. He’s coming off a successful title defense against Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2. Xander Cooper wasn’t in a match on Chapter 2, but did win a three way match at Chapter 1 with this title on the line,
The Why: Between Chapters 1 and 2, Andrews beat Cooper for the title. Andrews had his previously mentioned defense at Chapter 2 and after that match, Cooper came in through the crowd and attacked him. That led to PROGRESS management scheduling this rematch between the two for the title.
The Match: I believe only the second match in PROGRESS history to have been set up on the show before. The only match on Chapter 2 that was set up at Chapter 1 was the main event, if memory serves…‘Man for All Seasons’ is such a proper asshole nickname. I dig it…Cooper impressed me at the first show. Andrews and Hitchman had a banger at the second. My expectations are pretty high for this one…both get inset promos. Andrews has the best line: “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and you’re just a dick”…bell goes and we’re underway…the fans insinuate that Cooper has herpes. Somewhere, Rhett Titus is pissed his chant got taken…pace finally starts to pick up around three minutes in…Cooper busts out Miz’s old Reality Check combo. Personality wise, he kind of reminds me of Miz as well…Andrews with a Bubba Bomb. Not something you usually see a guy his size use…standing moonsault senton gets two and looks really cool in the process. Andrews was a lot like Ricochet and PAC early in his career. Not everything made sense, but most of it looked cool…stranglehold Golden Rule by Cooper. That’s a first for me…rope assisted enzugiri kick knocks Cooper back into the center of the ring. Andrews comes flying in with a Shooting Star Press (over-shooting just a bit, actually) and that’s the closing bell at 8:52…better then the opener, but a step down from what both of them did before. Took a bit of time to get out of the starting block, but once it did, it picked up quite nicely. I would recommend the three way for Cooper and the Hitchman match for Andrews more personally though. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Match #3: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (1-0) vs. The Bastard Squad- Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell (debut as a team. Allen is 0-1-1 as a single. Garnell is 1-0 as a single)
The Who: London Riots were successful in their debut at Chapter 2 against Will Ospreay and Alex Esmail in what was shaping up to be a good match until Esmail got hurt (broken leg). Allen got a no decision at Chapter 1 in the three way for the Starlo Scholarship and was tapped by Noam Dar at Chapter 2. Danny Garnell won his debut match, pinning Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: Damn good question and one I don’t presently have an answer for. I checked the history of PROGRESS that is maintained at Voices of Wrestling by Rob Reid and found nothing to give any reasons as to why this is happening. Maybe Jimmy Barnett will shine some light on the reason during the match itself.
The Match: Lynch has what I thought was a paddle but was corrected by Barnett is a cricket bat in his hand. Is cricket big in England? Thought that was more of an Australian thing…Barnett informs us that a poll on the PROGRESS website has dubbed Garnell and Allen as ‘The Bastard Squad’, so my why maybe just as a way to try to build up a tag division…as per the warning I issued during Chapter 2, it is entirely possible that I will screw up Lynch and Davis. If I do so, I apologize…then again, they appear to have keep the one in singlet, one in trunks look. I should be okay…and we’re off as a brawl breaks out…man, that one roaming cam is making me sea sick. Super wobbly…Lynch drops Garnell on the floor with a Michinoku Driver…and the official PROGRESS Chapter 3 chair of that fan has been broken…Lynch and Garnell just trading bombs in the center of the ring…high angle release German by Garnell. Lynch lands almost square on the back of his damn head…Allen and Garnell do have quite the big guy/little guy dynamic going for them…first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Allen has Davis caught in a Octopus but Davis turns it into a wheelbarrow facebuster. Again, another first…Riots grind down the pace of the match on Allen, but it makes sense for them to do so. They have a significant size edge over Allen, why not use it?…one of these shows, I’m going to keep a running enzugiri count. If we don’t hit double digits, I’d be stunned…Barnett advocates the old Gorilla Monsoon stance of multiple referees for tag matches…Lynch with an overhead superplex on Allen and Allen lands square on his tailbone. I’m guessing that probably sucked…both men on the ropes and Allen with another enzugiri to knock Lynch to mid-ring. The same thing Andrews did to Cooper in the previous match…Allen tries to come in with a cross-body off the top but gets caught by both members of the Riot Squad. Lynch helps Davis pop Allen up and into a sit out powerbomb which gets the three count at 12:25…a few good moments here and there but not enough to make it anything really worth remembering. It followed the old school tag wrestling formula to a tee. The thing about formulas is that they become formulas because they work. It does here and while it’s not going to light the world on fire or anything, it produced an above average tag match that sees the Riot Squad continue their winning ways. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Post match: The Riots lay in a beat down to Garnell, as one of the chairs from ringside is used multiple times against the knee of Garnell, before they use the cricket bat into the chair to ‘Pillmanize’ the ankle of Garnell. Microphone time for Lynch afterwards and declares war not just on the tag teams in the UK but on PROGRESS as well, laying down an open challenge for any place, any where, any time. Guess this story will develop more going forward then…
*Match #4: Jon Ryan (0-0) vs. Jimmy Havoc (0-1)
The Who: Jon Ryan makes his PROGRESS debut here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before working for wXw out of Germany. Jimmy Havoc is back after a losing effort to Danny Garnell on Chapter 2 as a favor from his friend, Jim Smallman.
The Why: ‘Strictly No Blood, No Hardcore’ is the tag line for the match. Let’s just say that somehow I doubt this…
The Match: Ryan does get booed on his intro and the fans love Havoc, chanting ‘Jimmy’s Gonna Spoon You’, a call back to the great spooning debacle of Chapter 2…apparently Ryan was Havoc’s original trainer whereas Garnell was the one who trained him in the ways of technical wrestling…an attempted handshake by Havoc is met by a bitch slap from Ryan. That’ll end poorly for him, I feel…Havoc works in a spoon while on the mat to continue that bit…knowing Havoc’s reputation, it’s weird seeing him in normal matches…and as I type that, Havoc goes for dive and misses but lands on his feet. He turns towards Ryan, who thwacks him with a frying pan for the DQ at 3:36…normally, three minutes is about the mark where I would try to give a match a rating. I don’t feel like I can’t rate this here given what happens next, therefore I’m not going to…(N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
*Post match- Havoc is understandably less then pleased about Ryan going upside his dome with a frying pan, which opened up Havoc’s forehead. He demands that Smallman restart the match under ‘Hardcore’ rules. Smallman warns people that don’t like this style of match to move away from the ring but as far as he is concerned: “fucking kill him, I don’t care.”
*Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan (0-1) vs. Jimmy Havoc (1-1)
The Match: And thus the lack of rating for the previous match…opening bell once again here…and the first official weapon is a kendo stick. Which Ryan just beats the hell out of Havoc with. I think the kendo stick is one of those overrated weapons. Not enough reaction to justify how much those things actually hurt…cheese grater. It’s like every ECW brawl from 1998 on featuring New Jack…there’s not really a lot to discuss in a match like this. It’s basically just them hitting each other with a bunch of various shit…feel like throwing a bloody person into a group of people’s chairs is a bad idea…powerbomb through an ironing board. Not what those are intended for, but it looked cool enough…never cared for staple guns, myself. Similar to the kendo stick, but I guess a little easier to gimmick…staple to the dingus. Because of course he does…I’m guessing this is the match that leads into intermission so they have time to clean up the ring after it. It’s a combination of the old WWF hardcore brawls and the ultra-violent style matches you’d see from a CZW or a Big Japan…and now the thumbtacks make an appearance…DVD into the tacks. And the referee wusses out by grabbing a cookie sheet to count on. It was a smart move on his part, but not the most masculine….the problem with matches like this is it takes a while to set up the next spot. Spot, set-up, spot, set-up. Rinse and repeat as necessary…a ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant breaks out, followed immediately by a ‘No, it’s not’. That could make for an interesting way to go down the line with it. And a definite divide in the fan base for someone like Havoc…okay, that finish worked. They had set the BW board across two chairs. Havoc tries for a spinning head scissors and gets caught and dropped clean on his head with a package Tombstone (think Tombstone set-up and then Ryan cradled both legs under his own arms). Rather then go for the pin there though, Ryan adjusts his grip around Havoc’s waist and launches him through the BW board with a release wheelbarrow suplex. It was all over but the counting and the counting hits three at 14:36…this kind of match is going to be very divisive. There are fans of this genre and there are those who feel like it’s a black eye on the sport. I personally enjoy death match wrestling as long as we don’t go too over the top with it (needles, fire, stuff that can really hurt someone). I thought this was a pretty good match for the genre while not going too far in order to affect the crowd that may not be as interested in this style. We’ll go ‘above average’ for the rating, but your mileage will vary. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Post match- both guys get a nice ovation from the crowd and a ‘That was awesome’ chant. Let’s not go around tossing that out so freely. A sign of respect as a hug and handshake from teacher and student occurs and Havoc pops on the microphone once again to put over the crowd and Jon Ryan as well. He also asks the fans to buy him and Ryan beer and have a chat. Always working, that Havoc…
*Match #5: RJ Singh (0-0-1) vs. Rob Cage (debut)
The Who: RJ Singh returns after getting a no decision in the number one contender’s three way at Chapter 2. He still has his entourage with him as well. Rob Cage is a man that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before so we’ll see what he can do in this match.
The Why: Can’t say I really have an answer for this. My guess would be to help flush out the roster with more people.
The Match: Can’t say my expectations are really high here, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised before. Mike Hitchman at Chapter 2 comes to mind there…the match graphic has Singh listed as 0-1. However, since he didn’t get pinned in the three way, I gave him a draw/no decision instead…inset promo for RJ Singh and the ‘Singh is King’ catchphrase remains in tact. It works for him. Promo wasn’t anything special however…opening bell goes as Singh’s accomplices make friends at ringside…apparently Rob Cage went the Jimmy Havoc route of campaigning on Twitter in order to get a spot on this show…I do still enjoy the fact that RJ calls his Camel Clutch the ‘Ethnic Submission’. It’s wrong on several levels, but still funny…Cage gets caught up with Singh’s crew and Singh gets a nice looking leaping neckbreaker, done Zig Zag style. That was smooth…running knee strike looks less smooth…Cage goes to the top and the ‘Director’ pushes him off while the referee was working on getting the other member of the Bollywood Empire out of the ring. That said, it happened so close to the referee that he had to have seen it. Really poor ring positioning…that leads to RJ Singh applying the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and it leads to a tap out from Rob Cage at 7:27…well, they reached my expectations with this. Worst match on the show thus far. I found RJ to be very entertaining for the role he had in the three way, so this was a major step down for him. As far as Rob Cage, not the best first impression made. For the first time on the show, I go with a ‘below average’ rating. It’s not awful, but if you are in a rush while watching this show, it’s seven minutes you can easily skip and not miss anything. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Post match: it appears that all is okay as Singh offers his hand and Cage accepts it. Until RJ kicks Rob in the junk and puts him back in the Camel Clutch while his cohorts talk trash right in his face. The hold gets broken by the referee and Singh poses on the turnbuckle to celebrate his victory.
*Match #6: Stixx (0-1) vs. Lion Kid (1-0)
The Who: Stixx and Lion Kid both make their return after opening up Chapter 2 with a singles match. As previously mentioned there, I’ve heard that Lion Kid was the former Wade Fitzgerald, but have never seen any confirmation of this.
The Why: This one is easy. As mentioned, they had a match at Chapter 2. Lion Kid won. Stixx wants revenge. Pretty simple, really.
The Match: The who and the why was pretty easy to get through. I fear the match may not be. These two didn’t exactly set the world on fire at Chapter 2. Hopefully, it was just nerves and we get a better performance here…we start hot as Stixx knocks Lion off the apron and proceeds to beat him around ringside before the opening bell…Stixx rolls back in and demands a count-out, despite the fact we’ve not had an opening bell (at least, not one I’ve heard)…appears Lion Kid caught a knee injury in the floor brawl, but we’re a go now with an opening bell and everything…huge Black Hole Slam forty seconds in and I thought that was three. It wasn’t, but it wouldn’t have surprised me. Looked really good…huge Flair shin breaker by Stixx. He’s definitely looked better tonight then last outing…Lion Kid looked for a reverse rana but Stixx powered him back up. Kid transitions right into a victory roll, which I believe is how he won at Chapter 2. It only gets two this time…Stixx with a nice looking variation of the half calf, but Kid does eventually get to the ropes…series of chops sees Lion Kid ‘roar up’, but a shot to the knee keeps Stixx in charge…half crab giant swing. That’s just a dick move…Lion Kid goes for a springboard and falls. Crowd chants ‘you fucked up’, but I don’t think he did. I think it was on purpose to sell the knee and if it was, bravo…the crowd continues the ‘roar’ chant to rally Lion Kid. As Jim Smallman said in the favorite chants video he did, it’s just fun to say ‘roar’…avalanche tabletop (fall away slam to vertical) suplex. Don’t believe I’ve ever seen that done from the buckles before…Stixx is being almost Anderson like in his focus on the leg here. These guys are putting on quite the show here…very cool turnbuckle sequence leads to the big guy coming in with a frog splash on the knee…Lion Kid with a series of roll-ups to put over how desperate he is. Psychology, psychology, psychology…Stixx tries the Black Hole again but Lion Kid counters into a tornado DDT. Lion Kid goes for a 450, but Stixx rolls in. Lion Kid lands on his feet. Normally, that’s a good thing. With a bad knee, not so much. Stixx hauls Lion Kid up and drives him into the mat with Splash Mountain (Crucifix PB set-up but into a standard PB finish. I dub it the River Stixx). After a quick debate of a submission attempt, it’s a three count instead at 12:21…well done, gentlemen. Way to make me eat my words. After being significantly less then impressed with their match at Chapter 2, they turned things around and put on in my opinion the best match of Chapter 3 thus far. A big credit for this goes to big man, Stixx. He put on a technical clinic in this match, which you wouldn’t expect from a guy his size. Lion Kid more then held up his end of the bargain as well. You mix psychology with solid in ring work and no noticeable blown spots, it makes for a happy reviewer. I would rate this match as ‘very good’. (VERY GOOD)
*Match #7: Nathan Cruz (3-0, PROGRESS Championship Staff Holder) and El Ligero (2-1, #1 Contender to Nathan Cruz) (debut as a team) vs. Dave Mastiff (debut) and Greg Burridge (0-1) (debut as a team)
The Who: Cruz and Ligero are the champion and challenger elect for the next time the PROGRESS Staff is on the line. Cruz won the four way on the first show for the Staff. Ligero won a three way on the second show for the number one contendership. Dave Mastiff is making his PROGRESS debut here. From what little of him I’ve seen on NXT UK, he’s impressed me. Greg Burridge took the loss in the three way at the last show. Marty Scurll is the referee and he’s probably not going to be an unbiased one as he has issues with both Cruz and Ligero.
The Why: If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t have a damn clue for this one. I expected we’d get Cruz vs. Ligero here, but instead it’s this tag match. Burridge wanting revenge on Ligero makes sense. Burridge wanting a crack at Cruz makes sense. Where Dave Mastiff fits into this is anyone’s guess. As for Scurll, that’s easy. He was cheated out of the title by Cruz at the first show. He had Cruz beat at the second show while the referee was down. Ligero attempted to interfere and superkick Cruz, but Cruz ducked and Ligero wiped out Scurll. Despite not hitting his intended target, Ligero didn’t seem especially upset about it. Cruz got the victory and Scurll got screwed once again. How does this all tie together? Hell if I know. Let’s find out…
The Match: Man, this is a clusterfuck and a half just based on the description I had to type…once again, Cruz is greeted with the ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chants. Probably still my favorite one thus far in PROGRESS…Scurll gestures that he’ll call it down the middle during intros. I doubt that…Ligero and Mastiff are both in NXT UK. I think Burridge is now retired. I think Cruz just came back to wrestling, but I’m not sure…Mastiff’s beard is not nearly as impressive as it is these days…inset promos for only Cruz and Mastiff. Nathan Cruz is laying on the Shawn Michaels impression a bit thick. He is not only the ‘Show-Stealer’, he’s also the ‘Leader of the New Generation’. Bloody hell, mate…opening bell and we’re underway…Burridge and Ligero to start, until Ligero tags out to Cruz…I can’t entirely tell with the accent, but I believe that Burridge is calling Cruz a ‘slag’…I believe Cruz and Burridge are the two biggest guys height wise in PROGRESS (maybe outside of Stixx to this point). I’m almost certain that Mastiff is the heaviest…tags made on both side and we go to Ligero and Mastiff…do believe that Mastiff just called Ligero a cat. Or something similar. It was of the feline variety…Mastiff with a massive delayed vertical…and Burridge comes in to beat the hell out of Ligero…Ligero turns the table by going to the knee of Burridge and takes control…and that explains why Scurll wasn’t allowed to wrestle on this show. It was around the time of his ‘British Boot Camp’ run with TNA. And TNA were being dicks about their people working elsewhere due to not wanting injuries…last few minutes of this match has been all Ligero and Cruz working over Burridge’s knee. Smart wrestling, but not always the most entertaining…the f bombs are flying in this one. Viewer discretion is advised…little bit of in-fighting between Cruz and Ligero leads to Burridge making the tag to Mastiff…even back here some six years ago, Mastiff moves very well for a guy his size…Cruz and Ligero try to work together to suplex Mastiff. It doesn’t go well. Mastiff takes them both over with a double vertical…Ligero clearly gets caught calling a spot. I usually try to get the guys the benefit of the doubt, but that was blatant…Ligero trying to trade shots with Burridge. Why would he want to do that?…breaks down to Ligero and Mastiff in the ring. Top rope cross body attempt by Ligero just bounces off Mastiff. Mastiff tries to climb, but Ligero dropkicks the legs and then hits the Del Rio corner double stomp. Scurll refuses to count for Ligero and shit cans him to the floor…Cruz gets caught in a submission but manages to escape and hit his version of the Whiplash. Again, Scurll refuses to count though…Ligero goes for his tornado DDT, but Cruz tags himself in and sets up for his superkick. He goes for it on Mastiff but Ligero superkicks him mid-move. Ligero again shrugs his shoulders and rolls out of the ring as Mastiff lands on Cruz with a huge cannonball senton in the corner. He pulls Cruz to center ring and a follow-up cover gets the three count for the ‘Bastard’ Dave Mastiff at 18:10…took a bit to get going, but once it did, it was pretty entertaining. I’d say basically the first ten minutes of this match are a wash though, as it’s mostly mat wrestling and then leg work on Burridge that gets completely forgotten about in the closing stretch. I understand the idea of having Ligero and Cruz lose here. I even get the idea of Cruz taking the pinfall. To me, it would have made more sense for Burridge to get the pin since it would validate his point from the last show. Then again, we’d never see Greg Burridge in PROGRESS (to this day, I believe), so in hindsight, Mastiff was the right choice. The first half of the match was average, the closing sequence was pretty good. So we’ll settle in the middle and give this a good rating overall but easily the lowest quality of the three main events to this point. (GOOD)
*Post match: Mastiff gets mic time, saying that he did what he said he was going to do, which was something Scurll couldn’t do. He says that Cruz may be the man around here, but he’ll never be a ‘Bastard’. Mastiff and Burridge exit, with Scurll following shortly behind…Cruz gets the microphone as he’s recovering and points out that he’s still the champ and that picking up a win on the scraps of Ligero means nothing…eventually, it leads to Ligero making his way back out and security having to separate Cruz and Ligero. Smallman yells at them for screwing around at this end of his show and makes the title match official for Chapter 4. Smallman then cuts a quick version of his usual opening promo and we’re officially out for Chapter 3.
Match #1: Noam Dar taps Paul Robinson with a grapevined kneebar @ 11:41 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: BWC Starlo Scholarship Title: Mark Andrews © pins Xander Cooper with a Shooting Star Press @ 8:52 to retain (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #3: Riot Squad (J. Davis/R. Lynch) defeat Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell when Davis pins Allen after a sit out powerbomb @ 12:25 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Jimmy Havoc defeats Jon Ryan by DQ @ 3:36 (N/A (ANGLE ADVANCEMENT))
Match #4b: Hardcore Rules: Jon Ryan pins Jimmy Havoc with a release wheelbarrow suplex through a barbed wire board @ 14:36 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #5: RJ Singh taps Rob Cage with the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch) @ 7:27 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #6: Stixx pins Lion Kid after a Splash Mountain Bomb @ 12:27 (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Dave Mastiff and Greg Burridge defeat El Ligero and Nathan Cruz when Mastiff pins Cruz following a corner cannonball senton @ 18:10 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Rather then do positives and negatives here, I feel it’s easier to save those for the Final Reaction going forward. Two reasons for that…one, the Final Reaction gets a bit redundant if I’m typing the same thing there that I am here. Two and just as importantly is it’ll help decrease the length of these reviews a bit.
As far as ‘Fifty Shades of Pain’ goes overall, I’d say it’s the weakest of the three shows thus far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad show. Once again, we top out with a ‘very good’ match on the scale. This time though, we do see the ‘below average’ make a return to the scale as well. Consistency is key and while top to bottom, the shows are watchable, there is nothing really blow away that the company would eventually be known for having show in and show out down the road. We see more stuff coming together for the future of the company and the cream is starting to rise to the top in guys like Scurll, Andrews, Ligero, Cruz and the London Riots.
So, where does this leave us all? Well, it’ll leave me coming back to watch ‘The Ballad of El Ligero’ or PROGRESS Chapter 4. It’ll leave you all hopefully wanting to come back and read when I do so. I’m once again off to find food. Honey Buns sound really good right about now.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Has to be the surprise contest of the evening to me. The super redeeming effort that we got from Lion Kid and Stixx earns them best match.
Worst match/moment: That RJ Singh and Rob Cage match was rough. From both an in ring content and from a ‘suspension of disbelief’ perspective. I’ve seen better from RJ but Cage was a definite disappointment in his first outing here.
MVP: This one is going to go to Dave Mastiff, who debuted in the main event of the show for the company and didn’t even look the slightest bit out of place doing so. Not only did he get to showcase his impressive arsenal, he even got to pin the champion in the center of the ring, even if it was under somewhat dubious methods.
FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter 4: “The Ballad of El Ligero”.
Chairshot Classics: WCW Starrcade 1995 – USA’s Toughest Meet Japan’s Best
Our weekly Chairshot Classics WCW PPV series continues with Starrcade ’95!
Open: “As countries from across the globe compete for global dominance, World Championship Wrestling has accepted the challenge from New Japan Pro Wrestling in a best of seven battle for the World Cup of Wrestling. It’s Starrcade 1995.”
Match #1 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: ‘Crippler’ Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger w/Sonny Onoo
Collar & elbow tie-up to start us off, Benoit powers Liger to the canvas, they lock-up again with the same result, The Crippler avoiding a third lock-up with a kick to the midsection. He grabs a side headlock and Jushin sends him off to the ropes, gets run over by a shoulder block, Benoit goes back to the ropes, slides under Liger and surprises him with a double leg takedown. Jushin uses his legs to toss The Crippler away, scores with multiple arm drags, follows with a dropkick and Benoit rolls to the outside to regroup. Liger doesn’t give him a break and connects with a baseball slide, flies off the apron with a somersault senton, then allows the official to count.
The Crippler steps back inside and they go in for a test-of-strength, Benoit muscles Jushin to the mat, Liger bridges back up, but is forced down again. The Crippler hauls him to his feet, gets caught by a headscissors takedown, Jushin delivers the Abisegeri, then goes to shoot him to the ropes. Benoit reverses it, cracks him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a 2 count, sets for a powerbomb, but Liger counters into an arm drag. The Cripper pops right back up and charges, Jushin leapfrogs over him, hits an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, drills him with a dropkick and Benoit spills to the outside. Liger hits the ropes for a head of steam, feigns an outside dive, The Crippler takes a breather, comes back in and calls for another test-of-strength, but suckers Jushin into a kick to the ribs.
He slams him with a snap suplex, follows up with a back suplex, whips him to the ropes for a big clothesline and slaps on an elevated Boston crab. The Crippler releases the hold and covers for 1, fires off stinging chops, Liger comes back with a series of palm strikes, Benoit decks him with a right hand, plants him with a bridging german suplex and gains a near fall. He quickly tries another cover for 2, looks to drag Liger back up, Jushin surprises him with a double leg takedown, flips him over and locks him in a Romero special. He switches to a modified dragon sleeper, Benoit rips at the mask to break free, Jushin stays on him, grounding The Crippler with a camel clutch.
Benoit powers his way up with Liger on his shoulders, drives him down with an electric chair, hooks him for another back suplex, Jushin switches his weight and falls on top, but only gets a count of 2. The Crippler quickly lifts him for a tombstone piledriver, Liger reverses it, plants him with an inverted belly-to-belly slam, then heads to the high-rent district. Benoit drills him with a right hand, climbs up and hits a superplex, crawls into a lateral press, but still can’t put it away. He scoops Jushin up for a body slam, ascends the corner to the top turnbuckle, takes flight for a Diving Headbutt, but nobody’s home. Liger drags The Crippler to his feet, shoots him into the corner, charges in with another Abisegeri, then connects with a Liger Bomb that nearly finishes it.
He hauls Benoit up and spikes him with a Brainbuster, The Crippler barely gets the shoulder up at 2, Jushin argues with the official about the count, attempts to shoot Benoit to the ropes, but it’s reversed. Liger ducks under a back elbow, gets flattened by a clothesline, The Crippler hooks him for a pair of german suplexes, plants him with a powerbomb, then goes back upstairs and hits the Diving Headbutt. The Taskmaster & Jimmy Hart run down to ringside, Sullivan climbs onto the apron, distracts Benoit, The Crippler turns around, gets surprised by a hurricanrana and Jushin steals the victory.
Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger (Hurricanrana)
- EA’s Take: Say what you will about some of the cheesy gimmicks and behind-the-times angles going on in WCW’s main event scene, but I’ll tell you, they sure figured it out with how to kickoff a pay-per-view using their undercard. It’s been multiple PPVs now that WCW has put on an excellent opener, really setting the tone with their younger, more athletic stars. The people are behind Benoit all the way here despite the fact The Horsemen are heels, backing WCW in this international clash courtesy of their working relationship with NJPW, so for the most part feuds are on hold, however The Taskmaster showing up will lead us to an excellent on-screen rivalry with Benoit that also led to scandalous behavior in real life. Also, isn’t a co-promotional PPV so strange to think about now, at least on this big of a scale? Could you ever imagine WWE doing something like this today with another company? Especially with New Japan being hot again like it was during 1995?
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is joined in the locker room by Eddie Guerrero, Eddie says what just happened to Chris Benoit doesn’t sit well with him, claims The Taskmaster had no business out there and should have stayed away. Guerrero states it’s an honor to be here representing WCW in the World Cup of Wrestling, speaks about Shinjiro Otani being a tremendous athlete, so he had to put the hours in the gym to bring his best tonight. Eddie proclaims he will go out and give it his best like always and hope for a win.
Match #2 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs. ‘Das Wunderkind’ Alex Wright
They lock-up to a stalemate to start us off, go in for another collar & elbow with the same result, they tie-up once more and this time Wright hooks on a hammerlock. Koji reverses to one of his own and takes Das Wunderkind to the mat, Alex counters out with an arm drag, slaps on a wristlock and Kanemoto slips away after an arm drag of his own. Another lock-up now and the champion gains a side headlock, switches out to a drop toe hold, starts to work over the left knee, Wright finds his footing, then clocks him with an enzuigiri.
Das Wunderkind unloads with European uppercuts, goes back to a wristlock to punish the left arm, Koji reverses to one one of his own, Wright cartwheels through for a hip toss, then grounds him with an armbar. Kanemoto works to a vertical base and gets sent off to the ropes, Alex catches him with an arm drag follows with multiple headscissors takedowns, then scores with a dropkick. The champion staggers to the ropes, Das Wunderkind buries shoulders to the breadbasket, builds a head of steam for a crossbody and both guys spill over the top to the floor. Wright uncorks another uppercut and slides back inside, Koji tries to pull himself up to the apron, gets knocked back down with a baseball slide, Alex hits the ropes, then takes flight with a crossbody plancha.
Kanemoto loses his cool and yells at a fan in the front row, takes a minute to regroup before stepping into the squared circle, they tie-up and Wright snapmares him over for a rear chinlock. He releases the hold and delivers a dropkick to the spine, slaps the rear chinlock back on, the champion finds a standing position, backs him into the corner and scores with stinging chops. He snapmares Wright over and drives down an elbow to the top of the head, brings him up for a series of leg kicks, rocks Alex with a spinning wheel kick, then planks him across the top in the corner. Kanemoto hammers him with shots to the abdomen, drops him to the canvas with a dropkick, powers Das Wunderkind to the apron, wants to suplex him back inside, can’t pick him up and instead sends Alex to the floor with a dropkick.
Koji climbs up top for an outside dive, Wright sees it coming and quickly takes a walk, the champion stays in pursuit, slingshots over the top with a crossbody, then goes to whip him into the barricade. Das Wunderkind turns the tables and sends Kanemoto into the guardrail instead, heads back in and allows the champion to get a breather, Koji hops back to the apron, gets caught by a kick and Alex tries to suplex him back in. Kanemoto slides out of it, sets for a Bridging Tiger Suplex ant hits it, but Wright gets a foot on the ropes at 1. Koji scoops him up for a front slam, scales the corner for a moonsault, doesn’t go for the cover and puts the boots to Das Wunderkind.
He shoots Wright to the corner and follows him in, Alex hops up-and-over, plants him with the Bridging German Suplex, but still can’t find a 3 count. Wright drags him up, staggers him into the corner with a jumping heel kick, drives shoulders to the abdomen, sends him across and charges in with a back elbow. He drops Kanemoto with a front slam and steps out to the apron, slingshots in for a splash, utilizes a lateral press to cover, but the champion finds the ropes to stop the count at 2. Alex looks to upstairs for a missile dropkick, Koji tries to cut him off with a dropkick of his own, both guys are off-target, fall to the mat and double down.
They stumble back to their feet and Das Wunderkind looks to shoot the champion into the corner, Kanemoto reverses, Wright springs to the top rope for a crossbody, but still can’t put it away. He hooks Koji for another Bridging German Suplex, Kanemoto fights out with back elbow, decks Alex with a spinning back kick, delivers a body slam, then springs off the 2nd rope with a corkscrew senton. The champion with a lackadaisical cover that only gets 2, he climbs back to the high-rent district for a crossbody, Das Wunderkind meets him in mid-air with a dropkick, ascends the corner and connects with a missile dropkick, props him on the top turnbuckle.
He climbs up and hits a superplex for a near fall, wants to whip the champion to the corner, Kanemoto reverses it, catches Alex trying to hop up-and-over, then drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle. He sweeps the legs with a double leg takedown, jackknifes over into a cover and picks up the win.
Winner: Koji Kanemoto (Jackknife Cover)
- EA’s Take: Two more young talents here in a match that was a little bit similar to the first one, but not nearly as crisp. Kanemoto has a good amount of charisma for a Japanese star, something which was not the norm for this time, while Das Wunderkind is still a clean-cut babyface who was remarkably only 20-years old, but was already considered to be a veteran. He’s still pretty “white meat” as a character though and it appears WCW is using their younger stars to put New Japan over, likely allowing the bigger names to get them back into the series through the night.
Backstage: Gene Okerlund is in the locker room and plugs the WCW Hotline, welcomes in Sonny Onoo and Sonny claims the World Cup of Wrestling will soon be out of hand for WCW. Onoo says after New Japan’s victory he might try to purchase WCW, Okerlund tells him that’s assuming someone’s willing to sell it, but Sonny states that in America, everything is for sale.
Match #3 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Masahiro Chono w/Sonny Onoo vs. ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart
Big pop for Luger as he enters the ring, the bell sounds and they exchange words, The Total Package fires first with right hands, then slaps on a side headlock. Chono pushes him off to the ropes and gets run over by a shoulder block, Lex muscles him up for a military press drop, buries kicks to the ribs, then shoots him to the ropes. Masahiro ducks under a clothesline, scores with multiple flying forearms, goes back to the ropes and connects with a Mafia Kick, sending Luger retreating to the outside. He gets some advice from Jimmy Hart, Chono steps out and stalks him around ringside, they meet back in the squared circle and Masahiro calls for a test-of-strength.
The Total Package baits him into a knee to the breadbasket, drives Chono coast-to-coast into the turnbuckles, puts the boots to him in the corner, then sets for a suplex. Masahiro blocks it and delivers a snap suplex, unloads with knees to Luger in the corner, chokes him, then snapmares Lex out and starts ripping at his face. The Total Package fires up with heavy forearms, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Chono catches him in a sleeper hold, plants Lex with a reverse DDT, then locks on the STF. Luger drags himself to the ropes to force a break, Masahiro argues with the official, batters The Total Package with right hands, Lex tries to battle back, hits the ropes and gets split by an inverted atomic drop.
Chono builds a head of steam and drills Luger with another Mafia Kick, climbs to the top turnbuckle and flies off, but gets surprised by a back elbow to the jaw. Lex finds his footing, powers him up into the Torture Rack and Chono submits.
Winner: ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger (Torture Rack)
- EA’s Take: If you just jump into this match without knowing any of the angles going on in WCW at the time, you might think Luger is a babyface because he was very over with the crowd. Part of that is the fact that he’s the first “top star” they’ve seen in the ring so far, but another part is his association with Sting I think. He’s supposed to be a heel, but the people don’t seem to want to boo him. Like I had said about the last match, it looks like the younger stars will be doing the heavy lifting in the squared circle for the most part, this match being pretty short and to the point. Chono is a legend in Japan that we’ll certainly be seeing more of in the future, had the match-ups been different tonight then I’d argue he should have been one of the NJPW guys to get a win.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is joined by Sting in the locker room, The Stinger says it’s now 2-1 in favor of New Japan, claims Johnny B. Badd is about to even the score and believes WCW is coming on strong. Okerlund reminds Sting that Kensuke Sasaki defeated him not long ago for the United States Title, The Stinger states that was a bad day and the championship isn’t up for grabs tonight, but pride certainly is. He speaks of Sonny Onoo wanting to buy WCW, says it will happen over his dead body, then talks about tonight’s Triangle Match. Sting says he is friends with Lex Luger, reminds us things got a little edgy with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage last week, but he patched that up. The Stinger states that he has to do what he has to do tonight and expects Luger to do the same thing.
Match #4 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: WCW World Television Champion Johnny B. Badd w/The Diamond Doll vs. Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo
Sonny grabs a microphone and says he doesn’t think The Diamond Doll should be here, states she should be home cooking and doing dishes, thinking that’s what is wrong with America. The Doll swipes the mic away, informs him this isn’t a Japanese bathhouse and she’s not a geisha girl, then wonders if wrestling is for men, why is Sonny here. Everyone gets set now and we’re underway, they lock-up and Saito backs Badd to the ropes, breaks clean and takes a bow. The champion looks puzzled, ducks under a collar & elbow for a hammerlock, switches to a wristlock and Masa hurls him over with a hip toss.
He catches Johnny coming back in with a modified STO, grounds him with a seated cobra clutch, transitions to a rear chinlock, Badd finds his footing, but gets ripped down by the hair. The champion pops right back up, they go into another tie-up, Saito breaks free and scores with stinging chops, Johnny fires back with some of his own and they continue trading shots. Masa hooks in a side headlock to slow things down, delivers a chop to the throat, drives Badd head-first into the top turnbuckle, then chokes him over the bottom rope. The official finally backs him off, Sonny uses his flagstaff to get in some more choking, Masa follows with the Saito Suplex, goes for a cover and gets only 2.
He whips the champion to the ropes, levels him with a clothesline for another 2, grinds him down with more choking across the 2nd rope, then distracts the ref for Onoo to some more in. Saito hits a side russian leg sweep for a count of 2, hauls Johnny up, the champion starts to battle back, shoots him to the ropes for a kick to the abdomen, then drops him with a knee lift. Badd ascends the corner and comes off with a high double axe handle, climbs upstairs again and hits a sunset flip, but Masa just barely kicks out at 2. Johnny scores with a kick to the chest, ducks under a clothesline, unleashes a series of lefts-and-rights, then hooks Saito for a snap suplex. Masa kicks out fast at 1, Sonny hops to the apron to create a distraction, Badd grabs him by the jacket and Saito clobbers him from behind, dumps the champion over the top and that’s a disqualification.
Winner: Johnny B. Badd (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: The Diamond Doll climbs into the ring and Saito stalks her, Johnny rolls in from behind, batters Masa with fists, then clears him outside with multiple dropkicks. He slingshots onto Saito with the Badd Mood, chases Sonny around ringside and then slides back in to celebrate with The Doll.
- EA’s Take: I think I’d have to go with this one over Luger/Chono now for worst match so far. It looked like there were communication issues between Badd & Saito, so this felt really choppy at some points, had little build to anything and the finish was bad. I always thought the over the top DQ was the dumbest “rule” and if you’re going to book a DQ, had much less meaning than say, outside interference or use of a foreign object. However, for storyline purposes it does tie things up now 2-2. We’re getting seven matches in this World Cup Of Wrestling “no matter what”, so it’s not too hard to figure how this will go down.
Backstage: Gene Okerlund is in the locker room with Lex Luger & Jimmy Hart, The Mouth of the South talks about The Taskmaster having a short fuse and that’s why he got involved with Chris Benoit’s match earlier in the night, warning The Four Horsemen they are in a lot of trouble. The Total Package speaks of WCW being all about the big match, believes the moment has arrived and talks about facing Sting and Ric Flair tonight. He says it’s all for the top prize and that’s ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage’s WCW Title, states that Savage is pathetic as a champion and he’s coming right at him, reminding us that he’s had Macho in the Torture Rack many times. Lex tells Jimmy he needs to go out tonight by himself for just this one time, Hart says he’s here for a good time and not a long time, saying Luger just needs to bring the title home.
Match #5 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Shinjiro Otani w/Sonny Onoo vs. Eddie Guerrero
The crowd gets into it with some “Eddie” chants as we start out, Otani looking very cautious, continuously backing to the corner as Guerrero approaches. They finally tie-up and Eddie grabs a side headlock, Shinjiro counters with an arm drag into an armbar, Eddie gets to a standing position, but gets pulled back down by the hair. He works back up and looks for an arm drag, Otani blocks it, rips away at Eddie’s face, Guerrero slipping free before regrouping. They tie-up again and Otani backs Eddie to the ropes, doesn’t break clean and grabs for his nose, Guerrero finds some space, Shinjiro picks the leg and gets rocked by an enzuigiri.
Otani takes a break in the corner, they go in for another lock-up, Eddie snapmares him over, grinds the bottom of his boot in Shinjiro’s face, looks to haul him up and gets surprised by a single-leg takedown. Otani locks on a heel hold, tries to transition to a front facelock, Guerrero counters to a rear chinlock and Shinjiro fights to his feet. He shoots Eddie to the ropes for a back body drop, Guerrero backflips over him, turns around and gets launched by a monkey flip. Both guys pop back up quick, Eddie avoids a clothesline, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Otani elevates him into the air, but gets caught by a headscissor takeover. Shinjiro rolls to the floor for some council from Sonny, heads back into the ring and they go in for a test-of-strength, but Eddie explodes into a dropkick.
He scoops Otani up for a body slam, steps to the apron, slingshots in with a somersault senton, then looks for the submission with a Boston crab, then switches to a single-leg crab. Shinjiro pulls himself to the bottom rope to force a break, Eddie hauls him up, plants him with a powerslam, stacks Otani and gains a near fall. He spikes Shinjiro with a brainbuster and tries another cover, Otani gets a foot on the ropes at 2, Eddie drags him back up, shoots him to the corner and follows in with a clothesline. He drives Shinjiro head-first into the top turnbuckle, sends him to the opposite corner, rushes in for a splash, Otani slips to the apron to avoid it, then springboards in with a missile dropkick.
Guerrero gets sent to the outside, Shinjiro springboards off the top with a crossbody, throws him into the squared circle, then steps in and sends him to the ropes for a dropkick. Otani chokes Eddie with the bottom of his boot, uses the bottom rope to get in some more, puts the boots to him and proceeds to tear at Guerrero’s face some more. He hooks in a rear chinlock, Eddie fights to a standing position, plants him with a Saito suplex, then rolls into a cover for 2. Guerrero sets him up for another brainbuster, Otani slides out it, hits a bridging german suplex for a count of 2, then quickly crawls to the apron. He springboards in with a spinning wheel kick, delivers a body slam, heads to the high-rent district, but Eddie’s there to meet him with right hands.
Guerrero climbs up for a super hurricanrana, still can’t finish it off, powers Shinjiro up for a sit-out crucifix powerbomb and again Otani kicks out at 2. Guerrero pulls him to his feet for a waistlock, they exchange standing switches, Shinjiro sweeps the legs, slaps on a modified ankle lock and Eddie reaches for the bottom rope. The official has to force Otani to break the hold, Guerrero pulls himself up using the ropes, Shinjiro rushes in, gets dumped to the floor and Eddie heads out in pursuit, driving him into the barricade. He drops Otani on the floor with a body slam, climbs up to the apron, springboards off the top with a crossbody, then deposits him back inside.
Eddie climbs back to the apron and looks to suplex him to the floor, Shinjiro blocks it, hits a suplex of his own to bring Guerrero into the squared circle, then rolls to the apron. He springboards in, connects with a missile dropkick to the back of the head, says that it’s finished and attempts his patented Bridging Dragon Suplex. Guerrero fights it off and hits the ropes for a hurricanrana, Otani rolls through for a cover, they trade-off pinning predicaments and Shinjiro finally holds him down for a 3 count.
Winner: Shinjiro Otani (Roll-Up Counter)
- EA’s Take: I think I still would pick Liger/Benoit over this one, but man, that was a pretty good match. Lots of high-flying, which I didn’t really expect from Otani, plus some really high impact moves. Especially those powerbombs by Eddie, a move he really seemed to excel at which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen him perform. Unfortunately for Guerrero, Savage & Sting are still left to wrestle in this and if New Japan is going to pick up a win out of the three of them, Eddie is the odd man out. He’s still getting a solid push still in WCW and would continue to rise up the ranks over the coming year, gaining popularity despite being “cookie cutter” with no real on-screen persona.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is back in the locker room and welcomes in WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, informing him that it’s all up to him now with New Japan up 3-2, then the Triangle Match. Savage tells him to forget about the Triangle Match, claiming the pressure is on him with WCW’s back against the wall. He speaks about thinking Sting is cool still, speaks of Luger’s win earlier in the night and says they are in a team situation until later. The champion states he’s wrapped up in the moment, plans on taking advantage of it and tells Tenzan he is coming to get him. Okerlund says he just got off the phone with Hulk Hogan who is suspended, tells Savage that Hulk wants to know what frame of mind he’s in, Macho stating that he’s in the zone and that’s what makes him different.
Match #6 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: Tenzan w/Sonny Onoo vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
The fans are getting behind Savage as the bell sounds, collar & elbow tie-up begins things, both guys jockey for position and the champion backs Tenzan to the corner before the official forces a clean break. They lock-up again with the same result, Tenzan catches Macho with strikes this time around out of the corner, batters him into the canvas, then rams him face-first off the top turnbuckle. He grinds the champion’s face into the turnbuckle padding, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, hooks the leg for a 2 count, then slaps on a front facelock.
Tenzan rakes Savage’s eyes, puts him in the corner and unleashes a barrage of chops and headbutts, chokes him with the bottom of his boot and then celebrates. Macho surprises him with a kick, drives him head-first off the top turnbuckle, uncorks a series of right hands, Tenzan absorbs it all and returns fire with a headbutt. He rakes the champion’s eyes and looks to wear him down with a nerve hold, clobbers him across the back, Savage rips at Tenzan’s nose to stop the onslaught, then whips him to the ropes. Tenzan reverses it, connects with a spinning wheel kick, puts the boots to him, then rocks him with more headbutts.
Macho rolls out to the floor and Tenzan comes outside in pursuit, rams him off the steel post, drives him into the barricade and deposits him back in the ring. Tenzan climbs inside, continues to batter Savage with kicks and headbutts, sends him to the ropes for a fireman’s carry slam and goes to the top rope. He scores with a Diving Headbutt and hooks the leg, the champion barely kicks out at 2, Tenzan picks him up for a body slam, climbs back up top for a moonsault, but nobody’s home. Macho sends him to the apron with a clothesline from behind, reaches over the ropes to suplex him back inside, drops him stomach-first on the top rope, then heads upstairs. He soars off the top with the Diving Elbow Drop and hits it, makes the cover and WCW ties it up.
Winner: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage (Diving Elbow Drop)
- EA’s Take: If you enjoy a lot of choking and throwing punches, this is definitely for you. This is nearly 1996 and the days of Savage/Steamboat performances from WrestleMania 3 from Macho have been over for a while. At the same time however, he’s still Randy Savage and ‘Over’ like he was a Drake single. I found it dry and boring, but that was all because of Tenzan as he controlled basically the entirety of the match. Plus, like I said after the last match, it was very predictable. All negatives in my book and besides, the more interesting parts of the night for Savage are yet to come.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is still in the locker room and talks about a meltdown taking place in the wrestling world, which you can hear about on the WCW Hotline. He reminds us of the score in the World Cup Of Wrestling, brings in Ric Flair and The Nature Boy speaks about WCW vs. New Japan, but it’s all about the WCW World Title. Flair claims he will style and profile, reminds Sting & Lex Luger they have to beat the man to be the man, stating they will both have wrestled already while he is fresh.
Match #7 – Best Of 7 Series for the World Cup Of Wrestling: WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki w/Sonny Onoo vs. Sting
Sasaki goes on the attack as Sting finishes his entrance to the squared circle, the bell rings to make it official and he unloads with kicks to the midsection, then chokes him over the 2nd rope. Kensuke bludgeons The Stinger across the back, sends him head-first into the top turnbuckle, scoops him up for a body slam and make a lackadaisical cover for 1. He hooks in a rear chinlock, Sting battles his way back up, sends the champion to the corner for a Stinger Splash, then tries to shoot him across. Sasaki reverses, hits the ropes and plants The Stinger with a running bulldog, goes back to the ropes for multiple clotheslines, attempts another and it’s off-target.
Sting explodes up with a dropkick, clotheslines Kensuke over the top to the floor, the champion clears the cobwebs, steps back up to the apron and Sting sets to suplex him back in. Sasaki slides out into a waistlock, gets decked by a back elbow, The Stinger rushes in, gets planted by a powerslam and the champion says it’s over. He spikes Sting with the Northern Lights Bomb, doesn’t go for a cover and plays to the crowd, puts the boots to The Stinger, then slaps on an armbar. The arena fills with “USA” chants, the champion releases the hold and peppers Sting with more kicks, whips him to the ropes for an arm drag takeover, goes into a lateral press and finds a 2 count.
He hooks The Stinger by the legs and puts him in a Scorpion Deathlock, Sting powers out of it, goes for a kick, Kensuke blocks it and makes him pay with a dragon screw leg whip. He grabs the leg to go for another, The Stinger drills him with an enzuigiri, both guys stumble back to their feet, Sasaki props Sting on the top turnbuckle, then puts him over his shoulder. He charges across the ring to drive him into the turnbuckles, Sting slips out of it, pushes Kensuke into the corner, flattens him with a clothesline, goes downstairs with a kick and hits the ropes for a one-handed bulldog. He quickly goes for the legs, turns the champion over into the Scorpion Deathlock, Sasaki crawls to the ropes, but gets dragged back to the center of the ring and submits.
Winner: Sting (Scorpion Deathlock)
- After The Bell: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Alex Wright, Johnny B. Badd & Lex Luger make their way to the ring to congratulate The Stinger, Gene Okerlund steps into the squared circle, Chris Benoit has arrived and the trophy is in the ring. ‘Mean’ Gene calls for a round of applause for Team WCW as the winners of the World Cup Of Wrestling, gets a word from Sting, he says he’s still got more work to do tonight, but for now just wants to say “USA”.
- EA’s Take: For as quick of a match as this was, compared to the earlier contests from Luger & Savage, it was the more entertaining. The pacing was solid and didn’t get too slow, but again, it was very predictable. You’re basically killing two birds with one stone here as Sting gets a win back from Sasaki after losing the US Title to him, getting him away from contending for it and puts the finish on the World Cup Of Wrestling. So maybe it should be three birds with one stone. He’s of course still to come in the Triangle Match, while the champion would lose his title against One Man Gang in I suppose what would be the dark match main event. Why would you even have a dark main event at Starrcade, let alone that one you may ask? Because WCW is all I can tell you.
Video: “Three men, one title. Three of the top superstars in the history of WCW will vie for the chance to face WCW World Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Macho won the title at World War 3 when he was in the last man in the ring…or was he? Regardless, Savage is the champion. The contenders? Lex Luger, who returned to WCW in September and made his intentions clear, claiming he is the uncrowned champion. The other, Sting, who has kept friendship with Luger intact even after Luger’s bizarre actions over the past few months in WCW. However, many have been wondering about Sting. As one of WCW’s most popular athletes, he has been involved in many bizarre incidents as well causing many, like Hulk Hogan to question his allegiance. Finally, there is ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, a man with a definite advantage as Luger and Sting will wrestle earlier in the night. A coin toss will decide which two men will start the Triangle Match. A man can tag out at any time, however the man who scores the pinfall will go on to meet Savage.”
Match #8 is a WCW World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender’s Triangle Match: ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger vs. ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. Sting
Referee Nick Patrick does our coin toss and Luger is the odd man out, Flair drops to a knee and poses to taunt The Stinger, does a strut and belts out a “Woo!”. Sting gives us one of his own, they lock-up and The Stinger backs Flair to the corner, they break clean and Sting shouts out to the people again. The Nature Boy looks for a test-of-strength, suckers Sting in for a kick to the gut, looks to send him to the ropes, The Stinger reverses, delivers a military press slam, then flattens him with a clothesline for 2.
He quickly attempts the Scorpion Deathlock, The Nature Boy is too close to the ropes, slides outside for a breather, then comes in and they tie-up again. Flair hooks on a hammerlock, uses the ropes for extra leverage and gets caught, the official forces him to release it and The Nature Boy hits right hands and chops in the corner. He goes right back to the hammerlock to grind Sting down, brings him up to shoot him into the corner, connects with another big chop and does a strut, but it has no affect. He turns around and The Stinger does a strut of his own, launches him out of the corner, connects with a dropkick, then sends him to the ropes for another military press slam.
The Nature Boy tries to beg off in the corner, Sting climbs to the 2nd rope, rains down heavy hands, bites Flair on the forehead, then hits the ropes for a one-handed bulldog. Flair rolls back outside to seek refuge, catches The Stinger coming out with a boot to the breadbasket, whips him into the guardrail, but Sting rebounds back out with a clothesline. Flair tries to do it again and The Stinger absorbs it, chases The Nature Boy back into the squared circle, then tosses him out of the corner again. He looks to follow with a dropkick again and it’s off the mark, Flair taunts Luger, hits the ropes for a kick to the midsection, decks him with a stiff punch and goes back downstairs with more kicks.
He baits Lex into the ring, the ref is distracted and Flair tosses Sting over the top to the floor, steps out and scores with knife-edge chops against the barricade, then heads back inside. The Nature Boy drags Sting to the center, connects with a knee drop for multiple counts of 2, does another strut and buries kicks into the ribs, then hooks The Stinger for a delayed vertical suplex. He mocks The Total Package by flexing and Sting bounces right back up, unleashes a flurry of right hands, props Flair on the top turnbuckle, The Nature Boy rakes the eyes, shoots him to the ropes, but Sting reverses for a third military press slam.
He positions Flair back on the top turnbuckle, climbs up to deliver a superplex, crawls into a cover, Luger steps in to break it up, but Sting spots it and stops him in his tracks. They exchange words and Lex goes back to the apron, The Nature Boy ambushes Sting from behind, he falls into the corner and The Total Package tags himself in. Flair runs away to the outside and walks up the aisle, Lex gives chase, carries him back to the squared circle and The Nature Boy tries to beg him off. Luger uncorks with fists, Flair goes to the ribs with a kick, buries punches into the midsection and hits the ropes for a shoulder block.
He runs into a brick wall and falls to his backside, hits the ropes for another try and gets the same result, Luger shoots him back in and powers him up for his own military press slam. The Total Package corners Flair and goes to the 2nd rope for a barrage of punches, The Nature Boy collapses face-first to the mat, Lex delivers an elbow drop and gets a 2 count. Flair sticks a thumb to the eye to buy some time, cuts Luger down with a chop block, stomps away at the left leg, drapes his legs over the apron, Sting has words with the ref, The Nature Boy grabs a chair on the floor and cracks Lex across the knee. He steps back in and continues to work over the left knee, struts to taunt The Stinger and hold the official’s attention, The Nature Boy takes the opening for a low blow to Luger, then wraps him in the Figure Four.
Flair uses the ropes for more leverage out of the ref’s sight, The Total Package works over onto his stomach to reverse the pressure, The Nature Boy gains the ropes, crawl out to the apron and tries to set for a suplex to the floor. Lex blocks it, brings Flair inside with a suplex of his own, crawls into a lateral press for 2, The Nature Boy staggers back to his feet first, then makes his way up top. Luger tosses him to the canvas with a military press slam, Flair fires away with fists and chops that have no affect, hits the ropes for a shoulder block, but The Total Package doesn’t budge. The Nature Boy gets angered, challenges Sting & Lex to bring it on, tags himself out and now The Stinger must enter the match.
Sting & Luger exchange words, they shake hands which earns some boos, they tie-up and Lex backs The Stinger to the corner, but breaks clean. Another collar & elbow and this time Sting drives Luger to the corner before a clean break, they go for a test-of-strength, The Total Package instead delivers a kick to the abdomen, rams The Stinger head-first off the top turnbuckle and puts the boots to him in the corner. He drives Sting back off the top turnbuckle, tries again and it’s blocked, The Stinger returns the favor heads to the 2nd rope for a series of punches, Luger powers his way out for an inverted atomic drop, but it doesn’t connect and he gets laid out by a clothesline.
The Stinger follows with another and Lex calls for a timeout, regroups in the corner, they lock-up again and The Total Package clubs Sting to the mat. He drives him spine-first into the turnbuckles, buries shoulders to the breadbasket, whips Sting across and charges in, but eats a boot to the jaw. The Stinger rushes out with a high knee, shoots him to the corner, The Total Package explodes back out with a clothesline, drops him throat-first across the top rope, then stomps away and Sting rolls to the outside. Lex steps to the apron and flies off for a double axe handle, The Stinger buries a right hand into the midsection, deposits him back inside, ascends the corner to the top and connects with a crossbody for a near fall.
He scoops Luger up for a body slam, slingshots off the 2nd rope with a splash, The Total Package gets the knees up, drops multiple forearms and hooks the leg for another2 count. He delivers a series of elbow drops and goes for a cover, Sting’s too close to the ropes and there’s no count, Lex hauls Stinger up for kicks to the ribs, Sting blocks one and drills him with big rights. He grabs the legs for the Scorpion Deathlock, Lex hooks the ropes to avoid it, sneaks in a low blow, splits Sting with an inverted atomic drop, then picks him up for a body slam. The Stinger surprises him with a small package for a near fall, The Total Package quickly sends him to the ropes for a back body drop, Sting counters with a sunset flip and still can’t put it away.
He can’t capitalize and Luger looks for a suplex, The Stinger blocks it, hits a snap suplex, both guys struggle back to a vertical base and Lex sends him to the ropes to try again for the back body drop. Sting prevents it with a kick, plants him with a one-handed bulldog, whips him to the corner for a Stinger Splash, sets for another, but this time nobody’s home. The Total Package muscles him up for the Torture Rack, Sting’s leg takes out the official on the way up, Flair steps in from behind, takes Luger out at the knee, then dumps them both to the floor. The referee comes to, puts the count on them both and neither man can make it back inside, giving The Nature Boy the match.
Winner: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Count-Out)
- After The Bell: Jimmy Hart comes to the ring and has a conversation with The Nature Boy,
- EA’s Take: So I definitely do not remember that count-out rule ever being talked about. You know why? That’s because it wasn’t and for a match that was the real selling point of Starrcade, a pretty lackluster way to finish it off. Of course I understand it’s a way to garner heat for Flair, but it seems more like it was done to protect Sting & Luger. This is a time when babyfaces very, VERY rarely lost clean in big matches, so doing anything otherwise would have really been an out of the box kind of thought, especially for WCW booking. This was certainly the most intriguing match in terms of storyline leading into the night, the focus primarily surrounding Sting & Luger to make Flair’s victory more of a surprise.
Match #9 for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
Jimmy Hart is staying ringside for this one, Michael Buffer makes our introductions with both combatants already in the squared circle, the bell sounds and they go into a collar & elbow, the challenger quickly goes to the abdomen with a knee, then looks to shoot Savage to the ropes for a hip toss. The champion blocks it, counters to a backslide for an early 2 count, Flair retreats to the corner and Macho tears off his shirt, then throws it in the challenger’s face. They tie-up again and The Nature Boy backs Savage to the corner, scores with a big chop, the champion fights back with stiff rights and lefts, drops Flair with more heavy hands and ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff comes down to ringside in a neck brace for a closer look.
Savage tears at The Nature Boy’s nose in the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope to rain down with fists, the challenger brings him out for an inverted atomic drop, then tries for the Figure Four. Macho kicks him away and slaps on a front facelock, Flair backs him to the corner, doesn’t break clean, but Savage fires back with more punches. He drives the challenger face-first off the top turnbuckle and shoots him across, The Nature Boy gets turned inside-out, flips over the top and falls to the floor. The champion ascends to the top rope and takes flight with a double axe handle, Flair catches him mid-flight with a shot to the breadbasket and we see WCW’s Head Of Security Doug Dellinger escorting Orndorff to the back.
Back at ringside and The Nature Boy drives the champion off of the guardrail, sends Savage’s bad arm into the ring post, Flair peppers him with stinging chops, then heads back inside. He distracts the official and Jimmy gets in a cheap shot on the champion, Macho crawls back to the squared circle, the challenger drags him in from the apron, then grounds him with a hammerlock to the taped-up arm. The Nature Boy uses the ropes for extra leverage out of the official’s sight, stomps away at Macho’s elbow, then continues punishing the injured limb with a wristlock. He grinds the champion back to the mat, delivers a knee drop to the arm, Savage pulls himself up in the corner, Flair goes right back to a wristlock and Macho scores with right hands to break free.
He hits the ropes and runs the challenger over with a shoulder block, goes back in and The Nature Boy drops down, pops back up and grabs the champion in a sleeper hold. Macho looks to drag Flair throat-first into the top rope, the challenger has to release it to put on the brakes, drags Savage to his feet and hits the ropes for a right hand. The champion blocks it, delivers a stiff punch of his own, falls into a cover for multiple near falls, whips The Nature Boy into the turnbuckles and elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound. Savage starting to build momentum now, connects with multiple clotheslines, uses a lateral press for another 2 count, rocks Flair with more big fists and then heads up top for a double axe handle.
Jimmy Hart hops on the apron and gains the ref’s attention, Macho jumps off and again catches a shot to the midsection. The Mouth of the South tosses Flair his megaphone behind the referee’s back, the challenger tries to waffle Savage, it’s blocked and Macho drills the challenger instead. The Nature Boy has been busted open and the champion makes the cover, the official is still busy with Jimmy Hart, Savage decides to climbs upstairs and scores with the Diving Elbow Drop. He makes another lateral press, The Mouth of the South is still holding the official, Brian Pillman sprints down to the ring and heads to the top turnbuckle.
Macho sees it, launches him off the top as Chris Benoit hits the ring, they collide and the champion chokes Flyin’ Brian in the corner. The ref’s involved now, Arn Anderson slides into the ring, decks Savage with a loaded fist, puts The Nature Boy on top, the official finally turns back to the action and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Outside Interference)
- EA’s Take: Big pop for the title change, The Horsemen are supposed to be heels, but they were finding loads of cheers by this time. We’ve seen these two square-off multiple times now in both WWF and WCW, so you almost have no choice expect to give it all kinds of bells and whistles like interference in order to make it different. Personally, Flair is the greatest ever, however he will be the first to tell you that his standing in history is not due to his offense. As I said earlier, Macho’s best days are also certainly behind him, so this was middle of the road for me. Ultimately, this title change wouldn’t mean a whole lot as Savage would win it back heading into SuperBrawl in February. Macho will be bringing back his old flame Miss Elizabeth in January however, basically giving us a rehash of the Flair/Savage feud from the WWF in 1992.
EA’s Finisher: So we get a new World Heavyweight Champion, all the top guys competed twice in the same night, but for what is supposed to be WCW’s equivalent to WrestleMania, you didn’t get a few of their “big boys” on the card. Of course, this is due to the format of the World Cup Of Wrestling (Hogan also likely didn’t want to work two days after Christmas either and was therefore suspended on television. Pure speculation on my part), which I felt was an interesting concept that was used in Japan previously. New Japan didn’t have the following in America then like it does today, but for those who were familiar with their stars, I’d imagine you would be pretty stoked of the concept. As we head into 1996, the tides of the Monday Night Wars will be taking a drastic turn, as will the wrestling business overall, however there’s still a few more months of what we’re getting now storyline-wise before that happens.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
2 – Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani
3 – Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair vs. Sting
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